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Secretary Kerry on World Refugee Day
June 20, 2013

World Refugee Day,
Statement by Secretary Kerry
U.S. Department of State

Office of the Spokesperson
June 20, 2013

Today, the United States joins the international community in honoring the resilience, courage, and determination of refugees all over the world, and the work of many countries in providing refuge, both temporary and permanent.

This year, the crisis in Syria has led to more than 4.25 million Syrians being displaced internally, more than 1.5 million becoming refugees, and millions more caught up in the unspeakable violence.  Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey have opened their borders to those fleeing the bloodshed.  We appreciate their generosity in hosting uprooted people and families, whether in refugee camps or local communities, and are proud that the United States is at the forefront of international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.

The United States is the single largest donor to refugee relief efforts around the world, working to care for refugees displaced by other conflicts, including in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Sudan, and we have helped address protracted refugee situations around the world, including those affecting Afghans, Burmese, Colombians, and Somalis.

We have seen some progress this year, thanks to the hard work and commitment of diplomats and aid workers everywhere, including staff of the organizations we support, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and many nongovernmental organizations.  In 2012, two of the most protracted refugee situations in Africa came to a close, with Liberia and Angola now stable after bitter civil wars.  We have also taken extra steps to ensure greater protection for refugees against sexual violence and exploitation.

The United States has a proud tradition of welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution, including more than 58,000 refugees from 66 countries who were resettled to the United States in fiscal year 2012 and the nearly 70,000 refugees who are expected to arrive in the United States in the coming fiscal year to rebuild their lives.  Their presence makes our country more diverse, our culture richer, and our national character stronger.